In the early sixth century Christianity was evolving at a rapid pace. The spread of Christianity was not only moving westward through Europe, but it was also moving eastward down the Silk Road. The eastward spread of Christianity was primarily a form of Christianity known as Nestorianism, after the teachings of Nestorius, a fifth century patriarch. By 635 Nestorian Christianity had reached the heart of China spreading through all of Persia and India. During the middle of the seventh century Nestorian churches were found in cities all along the Silk Road, though there were unquestionably many fewer Christians than Buddhists in Asia
Up until the turn of the sixteenth century Christianity endured great persecution in China and Japan. Christianity became extinct in China and Japan until sixteenth century when European Christian missionaries first came to Asia. Upon meeting Buddhist monks the Christian missionaries realized there seem to be many similarities between Christianity and Buddhism. They noticed many other similarities in doctrine and books as well. The early missionaries to China and Japan were both shocked and disturbed by their findings that another religion had similar beliefs. The missionaries determined that this was the devil at work, inventing a counterfeit faith. In recent years scholars discovered the evidence of Nestorian Churches in Asia. Many people now believe that the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity are due to the influence of the Nestorianism in Asia.
It is evident when reading many Buddhist teachings that there are many
similarities between Christianity and Buddhism. Similarities between Christianity and Buddhism are evident in every sect of Buddhism, but are strongest seen in the Pure Land sect of Buddhism. In this essay I will compare the similarities and differences between Pure Land Buddhism and Christianity.
In the largest Pure Land scripture or sutra, composed in India, a story of Amitabha is told. It is said that many eons ago, Amitabha a monk, learned from the eighty-first Buddha about the wonders of immeasurable Buddha Lands. According to the sutra in the second century AD Amitabah vowed to create his own Buddha Lands. He said that he would make them eighty-one times more outstanding than all the other lands. Amitabah who’s name means endless life an...
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... salvation. Pure Land followers are glad that a Christians hold his beliefs. They rejoice that Muslim is a Muslim. They are glad for the agnostic. Pure Land missionaries goal is not to convert those who are happy with their own religion, their goal is to convert those who are unhappy with their beliefs. A Pure Land Buddhist is happy for those who are content with their beliefs.
Although we can see that the two beliefs of Christianity and Pure Land Buddhism have similar beliefs, we also can see that they do differ in some major areas. I think that it is obvious to see that the Nestorians who brought Christianity to China and Japan had an influence on the Buddhist people during the sixth and seventh century. The religions have their major differences but we can see that throughout the scriptures that the main Idea of unseen faith is the central idea to the religion. Some may say that they are two very different religions but I would differ saying they have very much in common.
Snelling, John. The Buddhist Handbook. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1991
Reat, Nobel Ross. Buddhism A History. Fremont, California: Jain Publishing Company, 1994
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